How To Determine Authorship

Authorship really matters when you participate in a research project. In many cases, we doctoral students usually join the team designed by another principal investigator. However, it is crucial to keep in mind the logic underlying authorship negotiation to acknowledge your and others’ contribution in a proper way.

Below are the excerpts from APA guidelines. Please click the link ( to check the details and access the resources, including “Helpful Tools”

General tips:

  • Researchers/scholars take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed or to which they have substantially contributed, regardless of their relative status.
  • Discussion of authorship should ideally begin at the beginning of a project and involve a purposeful and thoughtful examination of expected contributions of the individuals who are involved in the project; however, everyone need to recognize that initial authorship and authorship order can change throughout the development of the project if necessary in order to better reflect the actual contributions of all investigators.

Tips for PhD students:

  • Except under exceptional circumstances, a student is listed as principal author on any multiple-authored article that is substantially based on the student’s doctoral dissertation.
  • Your short-term and long-term goals, and how your involvement on this specific project will provide the opportunity to work toward these goals. If you will likely be involved in multiple projects simultaneously, it is optimal to “pick your battles” and advocate for greater leadership (and more prominent authorship) on projects that are most important to you.
  • You should consider several specific situations when becoming involved in certain projects. For longitudinal projects, it’s helpful to discuss with the primary investigator whether she or he intends to produce manuscripts only at the end of the investigation, or if several manuscripts are planned throughout the process.
  • It is helpful to consult with other individuals outside of the project in order to gain an objective perspective, or to receive suggestions on how you might best approach the situation.

Written by YangHyun Kim (ykim39@albany)

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